October Predictions: The Most Pivotal Month of the Year

Wendy Cicchetti | Twixt Earth and Sky Sep 30, 2022 Misty and Wendy talk about predictions for the month of October 2022 and beyond. Take advantage of Wendy’s powerful FULL INITIAL LIFE READING SPECIAL With Coaching: https://twixtearthandsky.com/Payments/ Sign up for WENDY’S CELESTIAL UPDATE FAMILY SUBSCRIPTION Program where you will get uncensored information, answers to pertinent questions and help to navigate these energies and raise your frequency: https://twixtearthandsky.com/member_a... WENDY’S CELESTIAL UPDATE newsletter: https://twixtearthandsky.com/EAS_Sign... To sign up for WENDY’S BASIC ASTROLOGY COURSE: https://twixtearthandsky.com/member_a…

Awakening Your Body’s Energies with George Leonard

New Thinking Allowed with Jeffrey Mishlove Sep 30, 2022 This video is a special release from the original Thinking Allowed series that ran on public television from 1986 until 2002. It was recorded in about 1993.  George Leonard is the author of numerous books including Education and Ecstacy and The Transformation. Your body, says George Leonard, is an instrument vastly more sensitive than the most powerful computer. In this dynamic and practical program he demonstrates several awareness exercises in which you, as viewer, can participate. These include balancing and centering, transforming pain to energy, “soft eyes,” and “energy arm.” Leonard then explains the practical value of these procedures, which he has taught to over 40,000 students.   Now you can watch all of the programs from the original Thinking Allowed Video Collection, hosted by Jeffrey Mishlove. Subscribe to the new Streaming Channel (https://thinkingallowed.vhx.tv/) and watch more than 350 programs now, with more, previously unreleased titles added weekly. New!! Free month of the classic Thinking Allowed streaming channel for New Thinking Allowed subscribers only. Use code THINKFREELY.

How to Do the Robot aka Botting | Street Dance

Howcast Aug 12, 2013 Full Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list… – – Like these Hip Hop Lessons !!! Check out the official app http://apple.co/1hu3S9E Watch more How to Do Street Dance Moves videos: http://www.howcast.com/videos/511762-… Hello this is Gino Fort and I’m going to teach you how to bot. Now, botting is composed of different techniques in one, but it’s very stiff, very stiff. It’s not loose at all. You’re not even human, that’s why you’re a robot, that’s why it’s botting. So basically it deals with hitting a little bit. Hitting does help but not too much because robots don’t hit all the time, they walk like a robot. So basically you have slow motion walks, you have regular walks. Now your slow motion walks can go in with your regular walks. You can be walking regularly like a robot and then just slow it down really slow, as so, but make sure you still look like a robot. While you’re doing that you can isolate your body to move other places as well while you’re robotting so it makes it very unique and unreal. So various stops with your arms, stops like with your right and left arms, right, left, right, left, right, left, right left, right, left, bing, up. You’re moving one thing at a time. Don’t go too fast; don’t rush it because you won’t look like a robot. You’ll look human. So when you do that you can do stops, one, two, three, four, turn head, neck. Everything is one at a time. That means everything is one at a time. Neck, head, torso, body, arm, arm, arm, arm, arm. Basically you get the point. Basically I’m going to start to routine off with walking. Make it very robotic. If you have to add your own little extra flavor in it, come around someway, however you want to, that’s you. And when the routine starts you’re going to go slightly forward and it’s going to be like a retraction. So you’re going to go back, boom like you hit the wall. So one, two, three, and stop. Take your right arm five, six with your left, and you’re going to go up, seven, and eight. Now that itself is going to be like a back and forth. You’re going to stop as so. So let’s try it again. You’re going to walk very robotic turn head, left however you want to. Feet you can do in a different order, but when the routine starts you’re going to go back, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and an eight. Let’s try it again just from the start of the routine. Five, six, seven, eight, and one, two, three, and four. Five, six, seven, and an eight. You’re walking, boom, boom, boom. Slow motion if you will, five, six, seven, eight, and one, two and three, and four, five, six, seven, and an eight. Now let’s try that with music.


Translation is a 5-step process of “straight thinking in the abstract.” The first step is an ontological statement of being beginning with the syllogism: “Truth is that which is so. That which is not truth is not so. Therefore Truth is all there is.” The second step is the sense testimony (what the senses tell us about anything). The third step is the argument between the absolute abstract nature of truth from the first step and the relative specific truth of experience from the second step. The fourth step is filtering out the conclusions you have arrived at in the third step. The fifth step is your overall conclusion.

The Ukraine Emergency Translation Group meets every Friday at 11 a.m. Pacific time via Zoom. We call it the Ukraine Emergency Translation Group but we welcome Translations about anything. Here are sense testimonies (2nd steps) we translated and their corresponding conclusions: (5th steps) this week.

2) Physical things can be destroyed by storms.
5)  Life Energy is One Power flowing through ALL there is.

2) Family shapes peoples lives.
5) Truth is all there is, all that can be created, all that exists. The  only source. The only family of origin.

2)  Cancer will always grow unless it is treated.
5) Truth is uncancellable, irrepressible happiness now, both harmless and invulnerable.

All Translators are welcome to join us on Fridays at 11 a.m. Pacific time. The link is: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83608167293?pwd=cFRsckVibXMwTGJ0KzhaV0R2cWJtdz09

For information about Translation or other Prosperos classes go to: https://www.theprosperos.org/teaching

Some comments from group members about this group:

“I like the group interaction and different perspectives. Also, at least for me, it gives me a sense of accountability and keeps the practice fresh in my mind. ” –Sarah Flynn

“This group has freed me up to have more fun with my Translations.”
–Mike Zonta

Asking one simple question can entirely change how you feel

Asking one simple question can entirely change how you feel | Psyche

Portrait of a Man (c1472-76) by Antonello da Messina. Courtesy the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Christian Waughis a professor of psychology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. His work on emotion regulation and stress has been published more than 50 times and supported by numerous grants, and featured in seminars he gives across the country.

Edited by Christian Jarrett

28 September 2022 (psyche.co)

The pursuit of happiness is many people’s primary goal in life, and a subject that’s occupied countless philosophers and psychologists over the millennia. It is usually painted as an effortful and difficult aim to accomplish, especially in trying times. Indeed, it’s through their promises to help us reach a happier place that many self-help gurus pay for their mansions on the beach. However, taking the first step to being happier could be a lot simpler than many people realise.

Logic dictates that happiness relies, at least in part, on a person’s ability to regulate their emotions. After all, emotion regulation is the process of trying to change one’s current emotions to reach a more desired emotional state. For example, I hate crying at sad movies, so whenever I feel the sadness creeping up, I usually crack a joke to ward it off. Many of the emotion-regulation strategies people commonly use might be familiar to you, such as doing fun things, talking with a friend, and trying to think about the situation differently.

However, there is actually a much simpler way to change how you feel, as my colleagues and I, along with other researchers, have found. It starts with answering the question ‘How do you feel?’ You might think of the answer as just a ‘report’ of your current emotional state or mood, end of story. But there’s more to it: research shows that the mere act of answering this question actually changes the emotions you are currently feeling.

When we put our feelings into words in this way, scientists call it ‘affect labelling’. In psychology, the word ‘affect’ (the ‘a’ is pronounced as in the word ‘tap’) refers to the family of feelings that include emotions and moods. So, if someone asks you how you feel or if you ask yourself the same question, you ‘affect label’ if you respond by saying something like ‘I feel angry’, but not if you just respond with a grunt or a grimace.

Studies have shown that when people label their negative emotions, it can decrease how negative they feel. For this research, participants typically view various negative emotional stimuli (such as images of snarling dogs or impoverished children) and then the researchers ask them to either label the emotion of the image (eg, ‘fear’ or ‘sad’) or, for a control comparison, to label the content of the image (eg, ‘animal’ or ‘person’), and finally the participants will report their emotional feelings. Importantly, at no point do the researchers instruct the participants to purposefully and effortfully reduce their negative emotions. Most participants are also unaware that labelling their emotions might change their feelings. The fact that labelling the emotion provoked by an image nonetheless has this dampening effect on participants’ negative feelings suggests that affect labelling is different from those deliberate emotion-regulation strategies I mentioned earlier. It seems that affect labelling can help reduce negative emotions ‘implicitly’ – or without a conscious goal.

Affect labelling helps people feel better by dampening negative emotions while also heightening positive emotions

You might wonder what this has to do with experiencing more happiness, rather just less misery. Relevant here is whether affect labelling works the same way with positive emotions as with negative emotions – by reducing them – or whether it works differently? To answer this question, my team used much of the same methodology as in the previous research, but we also had participants label the emotions or content of positive emotional images (eg, cute puppies or laughing children). In an initial study, we found a curious result: after participants affect labelled the positive images, they actually felt more positive emotions. This wasn’t a random result. We replicated the finding in three further studies in which we manipulated aspects of the research design (such as having participants label the image during or after seeing it), demonstrating that affect labelling positive stimuli reliably improves people’s positive emotions.

In all the studies I’ve mentioned, we and other researchers prompted affect labelling by asking participants to label the emotion in the images. You might understandably wonder whether they responded to that instruction by specifically labelling their own subjective emotional response to the images or rather by thinking about some other emotional aspect of the image (which one could argue is a process distinct from affect labelling). This is a limitation of the research to date that needs to be looked into further, but we think it most likely the participants were indeed affect labelling – ie, using their own emotional responses when labelling the emotion in the images, especially given that we also asked them to rate their own emotional state after each image, which would have encouraged them into that mode of thinking.

That caveat aside, our interpretation of the new findings is that affect labelling does not have a uniform effect of reducing all emotions, but that it helps people feel better by dampening negative emotions while also heightening positive emotions. But how does it work? Why would the simple act of putting your feelings into words help you feel better? Along with other scientists working in this area, my team proposes an explanation that goes like this. To put feelings into words, people must first identify their emotional experiences. To do that, they must self-reflect not only on what their feelings are, but also what may be causing their emotions (consideration of these precedents can be clarifying) and, in turn, we propose that this leads to automatic reflection on what could be the appropriate course of action to address the identified emotion(s).

For example, say you are insulted by a coworker, then asked how you feel. When you respond by saying ‘I am angry’, we suggest you also identify the cause of your current emotions – the coworker’s insult – and you automatically begin to identify ways to address that emotion, perhaps by talking with your colleague about the insult. Identifying the causes and possible courses of action for negative emotional experiences helps people feel better. People generally enjoy having less uncertainty and a better idea of what to do next. Indeed, this is why affect labelling is a popular technique among therapists as a way to get their clients to better process their emotions.

For positive emotional experiences, we think the processes behind affect labelling probably work a little differently. When you feel good, there is not necessarily something that you need to address or a course of action you need to take. As a result, positive emotional experiences can often be quite fleeting. There is always some other problem to worry about, so it is easy for us to allow positive emotional experiences to pass by without much thought. We propose that affect labelling positive emotional experiences can help solve this problem. By saying to yourself or to others ‘I feel content’ (or whatever your positive emotional state happens to be), you will notice your positive emotion, identify what type of specific positive emotion it is, and perhaps self-reflect on it. That way, instead of floating off almost as soon as it is felt, the positive emotion sticks around for a little while longer, helping you to feel better (just as we found in our studies).

Instead of using generic words such as ‘happy’, it is more effective to use specific words such as ‘joyous’, ‘amused’ or ‘content’

There are some things we know about how affect labelling works in real life. For example, the technique works best when performed verbally – literally saying the emotions out loud or writing them down. This forms the basis for a lot of therapeutic techniques that clinical psychologists and therapists have their clients do, such as talking about and identifying their emotional experiences (think about the stereotypical therapist in a movie or TV show saying to their client: ‘How do you feel?’) as well as journalling about their emotional experiences.

Importantly, affect labelling is also more effective when it involves self-reflecting on and identifying authentic positive emotional experiences. This is different from when people try to trick themselves into feeling better by just stating that they feel good when maybe they don’t. The importance of using affective labelling in an authentic way is consistent with other research showing that people tend to enjoy higher wellbeing when they feel like they are being authentic to themselves and not faking parts of their life.

When labelling positive emotions, the type of words you use also matters. Instead of using generic, all-purpose words such as ‘happy’, it is more effective to use specific positive-emotion words such as ‘joyous’, ‘amused’ or ‘content’. Research has shown that people who label their positive emotional experiences with these more specific words also tend to be able to cope better with stress. The reason is that labelling positive emotional experiences with more specific words provides a better window into identifying and noticing those experiences. On the flip side, when people have difficulty identifying and labelling their emotional experiences, this can lead to problems. For instance, people with alexithymia – who have trouble identifying, labelling and processing emotional experiences – are known to be at increased risk for depression.

There remains much for us to find out about the affect-labelling effect. For example, one thing we know less about is: when is the optimal time to use it – eg, during the peak of the emotion or after it has subsided a little? Also, one limitation of the studies so far is that we have used only mild emotional stimuli, so it is not clear what the role of affect labelling is in really powerful positive emotional situations. Imagine a perfect moment of intense happiness or pure serenity, how would saying how you feel out loud affect that moment? Would it improve it, ruin it, or not really have any effect at all?

Although there are some remaining questions that we and other researchers are trying to answer, we know enough to be confident that the next time someone (including yourself) asks you how you feel, just answering that question could be a small, but significant first step along your neverending pursuit of happiness.


Imagining the Alien Arrival Is a Creative Endeavor—One That Might Just Bring Humanity Together

tktk | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From left to right: Julian E. Barnes, Sara Imari Walker, Corey Gray, and Sheree Renée Thomas.

by TALIB JABBAR | SEPTEMBER 28, 2022 zocalopublicsquare.org)

An “ineffable sense of wonder” filled last night’s Zócalo event, “How Should We Prepare for Aliens to Arrive on Earth?,” an event produced as part of Experience ASU, a month-long series marking Arizona State University’s expansion in California.

The panel did not debate whether or not alien life is “out there,” but rather adopted the premise in order to explore universal questions surrounding first contact. The conversation hit notes of optimism and despair, but all panelists agreed on some common refrains: that our imaginative strength is a vital source of inspiration for extraterrestrial exploration, that the alien arrival may present an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, and that humanity would need to come together in order to meet the moment.

The first question from New York Times national security reporter Julian E. Barnes, the evening’s moderator, cut to the chase: What would first contact be like—and would it go well or very, very badly?

Arizona State University astrobiologist and theoretical physicist Sara Imari Walker offered an entirely different scenario, one that requires a go-inward response. “I don’t think we’re going to discover alien life until we understand what life is,” she said. She believes first contact will be with aliens we make in a lab. We “need to build ‘planet simulators’ to simulate what life on other worlds would be like,” akin to the particle accelerators built to simulate the Big Bang, she said.

Physicist Corey Gray of LIGO Hanford Observatory, a member of the Siksika Nation (Northern Blackfoot) of Alberta, Canada, cited historical precedent: “Blackfoot people have had that experience of first contact and it didn’t go well for us.” He also brought up the film Arrival, based on Ted Chiang’s novella “Story of Your Life,” highlighting how difficult communication would be, and how hard it would be to recognize any signal from other life trying to make contact.

Afrofuturist writer Sheree Renée Thomas also brought up Chiang’s story, in addition to other fictional accounts, like Octavia Butler’s Dawn, that use first contact as a metaphor for terrestrial difficulties. “I think that first contact requires us to relate to each other differently than we do right now,” she said, which is “quite a challenge given our history.”

As they discussed the various facets of humanity that could obstruct a smooth and peaceful first contact, Barnes, the resident pessimist of the group—self-professed “more Scully than Mulder”—pushed on the point. If we were able to make contact with good aliens offering good technologies, could we even be trusted with it? Wouldn’t we make a mess?

‘I think it would be helpful if we could embrace the unknown as the unknown.’

Thomas sees promise in the stories science fiction tells: “Most sci-fi is moving past this concept of if they’re out there to how are we actually going to change in the meeting.” She hoped out loud that the aliens would not mimic the movies’ violent colonial alien forces—a projection, she says, of humans’ own colonial past. She hopes that aliens instead would have a deus ex machina effect on humankind. Whereas, it used to be “Y’all need Jesus!” she said, it’ll be “Y’all need aliens!” she added, to the audience’s delight.  

Both Gray and Walker echoed her optimism. “Contact with alien life could be something that helps us and makes things better,” Gray said.

The conversation then moved from science fiction to science, with all the panelists agreeing that there is a strong synergy between the fields. Gray said sci-fi inspired a lot of his colleagues to work in science. He recounted a moment in his young adulthood when, after watching a movie, he and his friend went out to a remote area in the middle of the night, looked up at the sky, and screamed for the aliens to take them.

“Humans love a sense of wonder,” said Thomas. “We are deeply curious. But we also want to connect with something greater. We want to believe [that] in that darkness there is something.”

But, Barnes, asked: What if we’re alone?

Everyone agreed it was possible. “I definitely think sometimes we’re alone,” Thomas said. “I’m also one of those people that think it’s already here and it’s just moved on. […] Why would they need to engage with us?”

Barnes then, drawing on his reporting of Pentagon reports of “unidentified aerial phenomena,” took the opposite extreme: Is it more likely that they’re here and already watching us?

No, said Walker. “Why would aliens in our 4-billion-year history decide to visit the United States with rapid succession for the last 70 years?” she asked. “There’s just no consistent narrative there.”

Suggesting aliens exist presents narrative dangers, Barnes agreed. “Are we enabling conspiracy theories on Earth? How do we think and talk about these things in a way that doesn’t undermine our society and democracy, but solves the big questions of humanity?”

“That’s tough,” Thomas said. “You’re asking: How do we do something for humans and then have them not behave like humans?” Walker, in response, urged us to accept the limits of our knowledge: “I think it would be helpful if we could embrace the unknown as the unknown.”

The floor opened to audience questions, including a flurry from the very active online chat. One in-person audience member asked about the difference between “alien” and “extraterrestrial,” and what exactly “intelligent life” entails. Thomas and Walker both said these distinctions are cultural and even arbitrary. Ancient and indigenous knowledge recognizes non-human life as autonomous, sacred, and sentient, said Thomas. Walker noted that it’s a question of value: Many people may not value a microbe as they would a “little green man.”

As the discussion came to a close and the reception buzzed with a persistent curiosity (but no UFOs), it was evident that these far-reaching questions—with answers light years away—served as an opportunity to connect us Earthlings to one another, at least for one evening.

TALIB JABBAR is an associate editor at Zócalo Public Square.


How Plato and the Sophists Can Help Us Find Shared Truth and Solve Our Political Problems

The Ancient Greeks’ Guide to Rejecting Propaganda and Disinformation | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Plato and his pupil Aristotle are prominently featured in the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael’s famous fresco “The School of Athens.” Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

by ASHA RANGAPPA and JENNIFER MERCIECA | JUNE 7, 2020 (zocalopublicsquare.org)

Is there a cure for disinformation, propaganda, and other offenses against the truth?

Twitter’s answer has been to add fact-checks to misleading statements, a move that has led to a showdown with President Donald Trump. While this fight has been framed as an issue of free speech, ancient Greek philosophers, who worried deeply about what “fake news” meant for their own societies, would say it’s much more profound and more urgent than that.

As technologically advanced as the fight between Twitter and Trump now seems, this dilemma is not new at all. The world’s very first democracies—in ancient Greece—had their own difficult debates about truth, knowledge, and democracy. If the ancient philosophers were alive today they would say this is no mere scuffle over Tweets, but a moment that asks us to make a fundamental choice about whether we want to live in a society that values the truth. The Athenians’ approach to this question shows why allowing propaganda and disinformation to stand, unquestioned and untested, could unravel democracy itself.

Long before “Fake News,” the Greeks had a lively set of ideas about truth. The philosopher Socrates argued that absolute Truth (Sophia) is knowable and that we communicate best when we communicate only that Truth. His student, Plato, went further, saying that one can arrive at the Truth through the method of dialectic—which meant a process of questioning and testing. Taken together, Socrates and Plato proposed that wisdom isn’t based purely on possessing the “truth,” but—rather ironically—on being aware of one’s own ignorance of it.

While we remember Plato as a great philosopher of democratic Athens, in fact he wasn’t fond of democracy because he thought that not everyone could access Truth through dialectic. He also didn’t care for skilled oratory—rhetoric—for a related reason: he worried that people without knowledge of the Truth would use manipulation and “base rhetoric” to persuade audiences who couldn’t tell the difference.

In contrast to Plato’s quest for a philosophical Truth, the Sophists’ goal was Phronesis—practical truth. They taught how to make the stronger argument through debating competing narratives. And rather than seeking Socrates’ absolute knowable Truth, Sophists saw Truth as whatever a community of equals with diverse opinions convinced one another to believe was true.

For these reasons, Plato was especially skeptical of the teachers of rhetoric known as the Sophists, who included Greek rhetoricians like Gorgias—self-proclaimed “wise men” who charged fees to educate the aristocracy about morality and speechmaking. From Plato’s perspective, Sophists used clever rhetorical tricks that won them clients but did not advance the Truth. Plato thought that the Sophists were people who didn’t know the Truth themselves but who, nevertheless, made a living educating others, who also didn’t know.

Plato’s criticism had some truth in it, but, in a larger sense, he was being unfair.

Sophists, despite their weaknesses, proved to be necessary players in creating a functioning democracy. Why? Because most political decisions couldn’t be resolved with Plato’s dialectic. The Truth wasn’t already out there, or easy to find. So Sophists taught the skill necessary for the practice of democracy—how to reach consensus about the truth. They taught people how to create arguments, to persuade audiences to believe their side, and to solve thorny political problems.

In contrast to Plato’s quest for a philosophical Truth, the Sophists’ goal was Phronesis—practical truth. They taught how to make the stronger argument through debating competing narratives. And rather than seeking Socrates’ absolute knowable Truth, Sophists saw Truth as whatever a community of equals with diverse opinions convinced one another to believe was true.

Of course, viewed from the perspective of absolute Truth, Phronesis looked shady. When you hear people today use “sophistry” as a synonym for making a disingenuous or misleading argument, you’re hearing Plato talking to us through the ages.

So are modern-day propaganda and disinformation merely sophistry? Not quite. Our democracy actually embraces, and even values, modern sophists. By the standards of the ancient Greeks, today’s professors and lawyers—the two professions that we, the authors of this essay, represent—would be considered more like Sophists than like Philosophers. Professors offer their own interpretations of evidence in their scholarly disciplines. Lawyers employ their skills of logic and oratory to make the most compelling argument they can on behalf of their clients. (And like the Sophists, both make money for their efforts.)

To defend ourselves against any Plato super-fans out there, we must point out that lawyers and professors also place an equal emphasis on finding the truth. In university classrooms, students question their instructors and are encouraged to challenge them with their own arguments. (Law professors actually teach by the Socratic method!) In courtrooms, witnesses are cross-examined, and juries—who are chosen because they are a tabula rasa (a blank slate)—are expected to arrive at a “truth” which is understood to lie somewhere between the competing sides.

America embodies a version of democracy embraced by Aristotle, which combines the best of Plato and the Sophists. Aristotle explained that rhetoric (Phronesis) is the counterpart of dialectic (Sophia). Both methods of truth-seeking are necessary to solve political problems and arrive at the truth.

But the problem is that propaganda and disinformation lie outside of either of these models. When we encounter propaganda and disinformation, its origins—the sources that produced it and the method used to arrive at the result—are typically obscured. Propaganda and disinformation neither offer a skilled argument, nor do they invite rigorous testing. Propaganda and disinformation are persuasion without consent: In fact, by offering new versions of “facts,” their authors try to hide that they’re persuading us at all. These forms of communication provide a conclusion based on manipulation rather than reason. Propaganda and disinformation create a realm where disbelief is disloyalty, rather than a shared attempt to search for truth.

In short, the goal of propaganda isn’t persuasion, but rather compliance—it doesn’t employ either Sophia or Phronesis. That is why it is the favored form of communication for authoritarians. It simply demands that we believe, rejecting all other claims to the truth. It’s like asserting the existence of absolute truth, but without using the method of dialectic to reach it, and instead claiming some secret method of truth-finding. The charge that something is “fake news”—without evidence or justification—is itself the ultimate demand to, in the words of George Orwell’s 1984, “reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.”

The implicit demand for obedience contained in deliberately false information is what is most destructive to democracy. When we share a commitment to finding the truth and agree about the method for discovering it, we are setting important democratic ground rules. Not only do these shared values and belief in the process help us arrive at collaborative solutions, but they also give us a bond that sustains our society when our governments reach decisions or make policies that we might disagree with.

So when Twitter tries to insert facts into Trump’s tweets, it is using a very old and democratic method that goes back to the ancient Greeks. It reminds us that we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our fellow citizens to search for, and debate, the truth. It encourages us to be loyal to our shared values and higher principles, not to a person or party.

But when decision-making is based on “choosing sides,” rather than on reasoned argument and discovering truth, these ground rules are eviscerated. Research shows that beliefs premised on loyalty—to, say, a person, or to a partisan affiliation—are especially impervious to facts that question or disprove them. Without a shared factual reality as a starting point, the Aristotelian ideal of debating ideas and achieving consensus on our common issues becomes impossible.

When propagandists, be they presidents or anyone else, reject any attempt to provide facts in the face of lies, they are rejecting the pillars of truth-finding upon which a democratic society is based: curiosity and debate. Accusations—rather than argument—and compliance—rather than persuasion—are incompatible with a democratic dialogue. The ancient Greeks rejected unquestioned propaganda and disinformation as well outside of democratic norms. So should we.

ASHA RANGAPPAis a lawyer, a senior lecturer at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, a CNN analyst, and a former FBI special agent.

JENNIFER MERCIECAis a historian of American political rhetoric at Texas A&M University and author of the new book, Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump.

Why Schools Don’t Educate

BY JOHN TAYLOR GATTO • JUNE 1990 (thesunmagazine.org)

Laments about our schools are nothing new; everyone is an expert, it seems, when it comes to education. While most critics point to the lack of funding or the shortage of teachers, John Taylor Gatto insists the problem goes deeper; we’ve turned our schools, he says, into “torture chambers.”

If that sounds abrasively radical, consider this: John Gatto, with almost thirty years’ experience as a public-school teacher, has just been named New York City’s Teacher of the Year for 1989.

Gatto teaches seventh grade at Junior High School 54 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Something of a local legend, he’s a chess player and a songwriter — and he grows garlic. He was once named Citizen of the Week for coming to the aid of a woman who had been robbed. He has lectured on James Joyce’s Ulysses at Cornell University and has taught philosophy at California State College. Perhaps it’s not surprising that he’s been approached by a film company interested in making a movie of his life.

Gatto once ran for the New York State Senate on the Conservative Party ticket, and some of his ideas are quite traditional: he stresses “family values” and questions increased funds for education. But he’s too much of a maverick to be easily labeled. At a recent hearing in New York, he castigated the school system for “the murder of 1 million black and Latino children,” and was met with a standing ovation.

What follows is the text of the speech he gave upon being named Teacher of the Year.

— Ed.

Iaccept this award on behalf of all the fine teachers I’ve known over the years who’ve struggled to make their transactions with children honorable ones: men and women who are never complacent, always questioning, always wrestling to define and redefine endlessly what the word education should mean. A “Teacher of the Year” is not the best teacher around — those people are too quiet to be easily uncovered — but a standard-bearer, symbolic of these private people who spend their lives gladly in the service of children. This is their award as well as mine.

We live in a time of great social crisis. Our children rank at the bottom of nineteen industrial nations in reading, writing, and arithmetic. The world’s narcotic economy is based upon our own consumption of this commodity. If we didn’t buy so many powdered dreams, the business would collapse — and schools are an important sales outlet. Our teenage-suicide rate is the highest in the world — and suicidal kids are rich kids for the most part, not poor. In Manhattan, 70 percent of all new marriages last less than five years.

Our school crisis is a reflection of this greater social crisis. We seem to have lost our identity. Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to an unprecedented degree; nobody talks to them anymore. Without children and old people mixing in daily life, a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the term “community” hardly applies to the way we interact with each other. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that. In some strange way, school is a major actor in this tragedy, just as it is a major actor in the widening gulfs among social classes. Using school as a sorting mechanism, we appear to be on the way to creating a caste system, complete with untouchables who wander through subway trains begging and sleep on the streets.

I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my twenty-nine years of teaching — that schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes, or politicians in civics classes, or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me, because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers do care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic; it has no conscience. It rings a bell, and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell, where he learns that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.

Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the state of Massachusetts, around 1850. It was resisted — sometimes with guns — by an estimated 80 percent of the Massachusetts population, with the last outpost, in Barnstable on Cape Cod, not surrendering its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by the militia and the children marched to school under guard.

Now, here is a curious idea to ponder: Senator Ted Kennedy’s office released a paper not too long ago claiming that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was 98 percent, and after it the figure never again climbed above 91 percent, where it stands in 1990. I hope that interests you.

Here is another curiosity to think about: The home-schooling movement has quietly grown to a size where 1.5 million young people are being educated entirely by their own parents. Last month the education press reported the amazing news that children schooled at home seem to be five, or even ten years ahead of their formally trained peers in their ability to think.

I don’t think we’ll get rid of schools any time soon, certainly not in my lifetime, but if we’re going to change what’s rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the school institution “schools” very well, but it does not “educate”; that’s inherent in the design of the thing. It’s not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent. It’s just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing.

Schools were designed by Horace Mann and Barnas Sears and W.R. Harper of the University of Chicago and Edward Thorndike of Columbia Teachers College and others to be instruments for the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.

To a very great extent, schools succeed in doing this. But our society is disintegrating, and in such a society, the only successful people are self-reliant, confident, and individualistic — because the community life that protects the dependent and the weak is dead. The products of schooling are, as I’ve said, irrelevant. Well-schooled people are irrelevant. They can sell film and razor blades, push paper and talk on telephones, or sit mindlessly before a flickering computer terminal, but as human beings they are useless — useless to others and useless to themselves.

The daily misery around us is, I think, in large measure caused by the fact that — as social critic Paul Goodman put it thirty years ago — we force children to grow up absurd. Any reform in schooling has to deal with school’s absurdities.

It is absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with only people of exactly the same age and social class. The system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety. It cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present, much the same way television does.

It is absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to listen to a stranger reading poetry when you want to learn to construct buildings, or to sit with a stranger discussing the construction of buildings when you want to read poetry.

It is absurd and anti-life to move from cell to cell at the sound of a gong for every day of your youth, in an institution that allows you no privacy and even follows you into the sanctuary of your home, demanding that you do its “homework.”

“How will they learn to read?” you say, and my answer is: “Remember the lessons of Massachusetts.” When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks, they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease, if those things make sense in the life that unfolds around them.

But keep in mind that in the United States almost nobody who reads, writes, or does arithmetic gets much respect. We are a land of talkers; we pay talkers the most and admire talkers the most, and so our children talk constantly, following the public models of television and schoolteachers. It is very difficult to teach “the basics” anymore, because they really aren’t basic to the society we’ve made.

It is absurd and anti-life to move from cell to cell at the sound of a gong for every day of your youth, in an institution that allows you no privacy and even follows you into the sanctuary of your home, demanding that you do its “homework.”

Two institutions at present control our children’s lives: television and schooling, in that order. Both of these reduce the real world of wisdom, fortitude, temperance, and justice to a never-ending, nonstop abstraction. In centuries past, the time of a child or adolescent would be occupied in real work, real charity, real adventure, and the real search for mentors who might teach what he or she really wanted to learn. A great deal of time was spent in community pursuits, practicing affection, meeting and studying every level of the community, learning how to make a home, and dozens of other tasks necessary to becoming a whole man or woman.

But here is the calculus of time the children I teach must deal with:

Out of the one hundred sixty-eight hours in each week, my children sleep fifty-six. That leaves them one hundred twelve hours a week out of which to fashion a self.

My children watch fifty-five hours of television a week, according to recent reports. That leaves them fifty-seven hours a week in which to grow up.

My children attend school thirty hours a week, use about eight hours getting ready, going, and coming home, and spend an average of seven hours a week on homework — a total of forty-five hours. During that time they are under constant surveillance, have no private time or private space, and are disciplined if they try to assert individuality in the use of time or space. That leaves twelve hours a week out of which to create a unique consciousness. Of course my kids eat, too, and that takes some time — not much, though, because we’ve lost the tradition of family dining. If we allot three hours a week to evening meals, we arrive at a net amount of private time for each child of nine hours.

It’s not enough. It’s not enough, is it? The richer the kid, of course, the less television he or she watches, but the rich kid’s time is just as narrowly circumscribed by a broader catalog of commercial entertainments and his or her inevitable assignment to a series of private lessons in areas seldom of the child’s own choice.

And these things are, oddly enough, just a more cosmetic way to create dependent human beings, unable to fill their own hours, unable to initiate lines of meaning to give substance and pleasure to their existence. It’s a national disease, this dependency and aimlessness, and I think schooling and television and lessons have a lot to do with it.

Think of the things that are killing us as a nation: drugs, brainless competition, recreational sex, gambling, alcohol, the pornography of violence, and the worst pornography of all: lives devoted to buying things, accumulation as a philosophy. All are addictions of dependent personalities, and that is what our brand of schooling must inevitably produce.

Iwant to tell you what the effect is on children of taking all their time — time they need to grow up — and forcing them to spend it on abstractions. No reform that doesn’t attack these specific pathologies will be anything more than a facade.

  1. The children I teach are indifferent to the adult world. This defies the experience of thousands of years. A close study of what big people were up to was always the most exciting occupation of youth, but nobody wants to grow up these days, and who can blame them? Toys are us.
  2. The children I teach have almost no curiosity, and what little they do have is transitory; they cannot concentrate for very long, even on things they choose to do. Can you see a connection between the bells ringing again and again to change classes and this phenomenon of evanescent attention?
  3. The children I teach have a poor sense of the future, of how tomorrow is inextricably linked to today. They live in a continuous present; the exact moment they are in is the boundary of their consciousness.
  4. The children I teach are ahistorical; they have no sense of how the past has predestined their own present, limiting their choices, shaping their values and lives.
  5. The children I teach are cruel to each other; they lack compassion for misfortune, they laugh at weakness, and they have contempt for people whose need for help shows too plainly.
  6. The children I teach are uneasy with intimacy or candor. They cannot deal with genuine intimacy because of a lifelong habit of preserving a secret self inside an outer personality made up of artificial bits and pieces of behavior borrowed from television or acquired to manipulate teachers. Because they are not who they represent themselves to be, the disguise wears thin in the presence of intimacy, so intimate relationships have to be avoided.
  7. The children I teach are materialistic, following the lead of schoolteachers who materialistically “grade” everything — and television mentors who offer everything in the world for sale.
  8. The children I teach are dependent, passive, and timid in the presence of new challenges. This timidity is frequently masked by surface bravado, or by anger or aggressiveness, but underneath is a vacuum without fortitude.

I could name a few other conditions that school reform will have to tackle if our national decline is to be arrested, but by now you will have grasped my thesis, whether you agree with it or not. Either schools, television, or both have caused these pathologies. It’s a simple matter of arithmetic: between schooling and television, all the time children have is eaten up. That’s what has destroyed the American family; it is no longer a factor in the education of its own children.

What can be done?

First, we need a ferocious national debate that doesn’t quit, day after day, year after year, the kind of continuous emphasis that journalism finds boring. We need to scream and argue about this school thing until it is fixed or broken beyond repair — one or the other. If we can fix it, fine; if we cannot, then the success of home schooling shows a different road that has great promise. Pouring the money back into family education might kill two birds with one stone, repairing families as it repairs children.

Genuine reform is possible, but it shouldn’t cost anything. We need to rethink the fundamental premises of schooling and decide what it is we want all children to learn, and why. For 140 years this nation has tried to impose objectives from a lofty command center made up of “experts,” a central elite of social engineers. It hasn’t worked. It won’t work. It is a gross betrayal of the democratic promise that once made this nation a noble experiment. The Russian attempt to control Eastern Europe has exploded before our eyes. Our own attempt to impose the same sort of central orthodoxy, using the schools as an instrument, is also coming apart at the seams, albeit more slowly and painfully. It doesn’t work because its fundamental premises are mechanical, anti-human, and hostile to family life. Lives can be controlled by machine education, but they will always fight back with weapons of social pathology — drugs, violence, self-destruction, indifference, and the symptoms I see in the children I teach.

It’s high time we looked backward to regain an educational philosophy that works. One I like particularly well has been a favorite of the ruling classes of Europe for thousands of years. I think it works just as well for poor children as for rich ones. I use as much of it as I can manage in my own teaching — as much, that is, as I can get away with, given the present institution of compulsory schooling.

At the core of this elite system of education is the belief that self-knowledge is the only basis of true knowledge. Everywhere in this system, at every age, you will find arrangements that place the child alone in an unguided setting with a problem to solve. Sometimes the problem is fraught with great risks, such as the problem of getting a horse to gallop or making it jump. But that, of course, is a problem successfully solved by thousands of elite children before the age of ten. Can you imagine anyone who has mastered such a challenge ever lacking confidence in his or her ability to do anything? Sometimes the problem is that of mastering solitude, as Thoreau did at Walden Pond, or Einstein did in the Swiss customshouse.

One of my former students, Roland Legiardi-Laura, though both his parents were dead and he had no inheritance, rode a bicycle across the United States alone when he was hardly out of boyhood. Is it any wonder that in manhood he made a film about Nicaragua, although he had no money and no prior experience with filmmaking, and that it was an international award winner — even though his regular work was as a carpenter?

Right now we are taking from our children the time they need to develop self-knowledge. That has to stop. We have to invent school experiences that give a lot of that time back. We need to trust children from a very early age with independent study, perhaps arranged in school, but which takes place away from the institutional setting. We need to invent a curriculum where each kid has a chance to develop uniqueness and self-reliance.

A short time ago, I paid seventy dollars and sent a twelve-year-old girl with her non-English-speaking mother on a bus down the New Jersey coast. She took the police chief of Sea Bright to lunch and apologized for polluting his beach with a discarded Gatorade bottle. In exchange for this public apology, I had arranged for the girl to have a one-day apprenticeship in small-town police procedures. A few days later, two more of my twelve-year-old kids traveled alone from Harlem to West Thirty-first Street, where they began apprenticeships with a newspaper editor. Next week, three of my kids will find themselves in the middle of the Jersey swamps at six in the morning studying the mind of a trucking-company president as he dispatches eighteen-wheelers to Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Are these “special” children in a “special” program? No, they’re just nice kids from central Harlem, bright and alert, but so badly schooled when they came to me that most of them couldn’t add or subtract with any fluency. And not a single one knew the population of New York City, or how far it is from New York to California.

Does that worry me? Of course. But I am confident that as they gain self-knowledge, they’ll also become self-teachers — and only self-teaching has any lasting value.

We’ve got to give kids independent time right away, because that is the key to self-knowledge, and we must reinvolve them with the real world as fast as possible so that the independent time can be spent on something other than mere abstractions. This is an emergency. It requires drastic action to correct. Our children are dying like flies in our schools. Good schooling or bad schooling, it’s all the same: irrelevant.

We need a ferocious national debate that doesn’t quit, day after day, year after year, the kind of continuous emphasis that journalism finds boring. We need to scream and argue about this school thing until it is fixed or broken beyond repair — one or the other.

What else does a restructured school system need? It needs to stop being a parasite on the working community. I think we need to make community service a required part of schooling. It is the quickest way to give young children real responsibility.

For five years I ran a guerrilla school program where I had every kid, rich and poor, smart and dipsy, give 320 hours a year of hard community service. Dozens of those kids came back to me years later and told me that this one experience had changed their lives, had taught them to see in new ways, to rethink goals and values. It happened when they were thirteen, in my Lab School program — made possible only because my rich school district was in chaos. When “stability” returned, the lab closed. It was too successful, at too small a cost, to be allowed to continue; we made the expensive, elite programs look bad.

There is no shortage of real problems in this city. Kids can be asked to help solve them in exchange for the respect and attention of the adult world. Good for kids, good for the rest of us.

Independent study, community service, adventures in experience, large doses of privacy and solitude, a thousand different apprenticeships — these are all powerful, cheap, and effective ways to start a real reform of schooling. But no large-scale reform is ever going to repair our damaged children and our damaged society until we force the idea of “school” open — to include family as the main engine of education. The Swedes realized this in 1976, when they effectively abandoned state adoption of unwanted children and instead spent national time and treasure on reinforcing the original family so that children born to Swedes were wanted. They reduced the number of unwanted Swedish children from six thousand in 1976 to fifteen in 1986. So it can be done. The Swedes just got tired of paying for the social wreckage caused by children not being raised by their natural parents, so they did something about it. We can, too.

Family is the main engine of education. If we use schooling to break children away from parents — and make no mistake, that has been the central function of schools since John Cotton announced it as the purpose of the Bay Colony schools in 1650 and Horace Mann announced it as the purpose of Massachusetts schools in 1850 — we’re going to continue to have the horror show we have right now.

The curriculum of family is at the heart of any good life. We’ve gotten away from that curriculum — it’s time to return to it. The way to sanity in education is for our schools to take the lead in releasing the stranglehold of institutions on family life, to promote during school time confluences of parent and child that will strengthen family bonds. That was my real purpose in sending the girl and her mother down the Jersey coast to meet the police chief.

I have many ideas on how to make a family curriculum, and my guess is that a lot of you will have many ideas, too, once you begin to think about it. Our greatest problem in getting the kind of grass-roots thinking going that could reform schooling is that we have large, vested interests profiting from schooling just exactly as it is, despite rhetoric to the contrary.

We have to demand that new voices and new ideas get a hearing, my ideas and yours. We’ve all had a bellyful of authorized voices on television and in the press. A decade-long, free-for-all debate is called for now, not more “expert” opinions. Experts in education have never been right; their “solutions” are expensive, self-serving, and always involve further centralization. Enough.

Time for a return to democracy, individuality, and family.

I’ve said my piece. Thank you.

Tarot Cards for September 30: The Four of Cups

The Four of Cups

The Lord of Luxury is a card with a hidden sting in its tail. On the surface it indicates a wealth of loving affection, showing a person who is lucky enough to receive a great deal of devotion and tenderness.

At first look, you would think we would be all too pleased with this situation wouldn’t you? However, the sting is this – sometimes, when we are loved deeply and for a long period of time, we are foolish enough to forget what it feels like when we are lonely and unloved. And as soon as we make that mistake, we start to undervalue the tenderness and emotional investment that others are making in us.

We begin to get careless about the ways in which we treat those people who love us. We may hanker after love from some-one outside our circle, instead of valuing those people closer to hand who love us from the bottom of their hearts.

In other words, we can begin to take love for granted. And there are three things in this world we are all silly to take for granted – love, good health and tranquillity. Every one of them slips away silently if we stop paying it due attention.

So, when the Lord of Luxury appears, whilst you will know that there is a great deal of love in the air, there’s also a warning which must be taken on board – count your blessings, reciprocate, and don’t get your priorities in a mess. That way you’ll carry on being loved for a very long time.

The Four of Cups

(via angelpaths.com and Alan Blackman)